Tag Archives: gospel
Today marks the halfway point in our study. We were challenged in our first lesson of this session to consider what the word home means to each of us. When I think of home, my family and my actual house come to mind. I also think of intangible factors that evoke the feelings of home. Kelly Minter drew our attention away from these ideas to focus on our physical bodies, what Paul calls our earthly tents.
“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-4
In this lesson, we cross referenced our reading passage from 2 Corinthians with 1 Corinthians 15:53,54. These verses reveal that Paul taught that the perishable and mortal body must be clothed with the immortal and imperishable body. In order to dwell with God in heaven, our bodies must change and be made new. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee, our assurance of that reality to come [2 Corinthians 5:5].
“Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-9
On Day 2, our focus was directed to our motivation in ministry. What is our true heart’s intent when we serve our families, churches, and neighborhoods? The Corinthian church placed value on externals and Paul didn’t appear to offer them what they sought based on his outward appearance. But Paul defends his position that he did nothing for selfish gain but everything out of love for them. Paul stated his reason was that the love of Christ Jesus compelled him to love and serve others. We were taught the Greek word for compel found in this passage. One of the definitions for the word is “to be physically held.” Kelly Minter shared with us that “when the love of Jesus is what’s holding and compelling you, you will selflessly bless and serve others.” This statement rings true. I love the image this statement conjures in my mind that the love of Christ physically holds and compels me so my service to others is really Him at work through me.
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:14,15
Our lesson on Day 3 centered around reconciliation. Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus on our behalf as believers, we have been reconciled to God through Christ. We are no longer what we were formerly. We are made new. Our relationship with God is restored. This reconciliation calls for us to be at peace and to offer peace to others. Paul states we are Christ’s ambassadors with a vital message that needs to be shared with others.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
On Day 4, we read of the tension and struggle that Paul faced in ministry. He was intentional about his ministry to others so the message that he brought of Jesus Christ was not discredited. In our lesson, we also listed the four virtues that characterized Paul’s ministry and the four methods that he used. We considered each of these in fuller detail. We also considered the couplets found in 2 Corinthians 6:8-10. These couplets are a firm reminder to me of the constant tension in my life of faith and my need for God.
Our last lesson for the week focused on relationships between believers and non-believers. These relationships are often referred to as being unequally yoked. As a new creation in Christ Jesus, we are yoked with Christ. We have become the temple of the living God. He dwells within us. A person who has not become a believer does not share the same spirit and heart’s desire. They are pulled in a different direction. These differences place the relationship at odds. We answered questions and cross referenced other scriptures during our study of this lesson.
“What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”” 2 Corinthians 6:16
We’re halfway through our study! Start Session 5 this week.
“But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized. One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.” Acts 18:6-11
Paul established a burgeoning new church in Corinth around A.D. 50-51. The letter, 2 Corinthians, that we began studying this past week in our study All Things New by Kelly Minter, was Paul’s last letter to Corinth. He had written several letters to this church previously following his initial visit to establish the church. As was his custom, Paul first brought the gospel message of Jesus Christ to the Jews at the synagogue. Their acceptance or rejection of the message determined his next course of action. Typically, their action led him to take the message to the Gentiles.
In our first lesson, we considered the benefits and obstacles of being a believer of Jesus in such a diverse place as Corinth. We learned about the culture of Corinth and the struggles these new believers confronted in order to live holy lives. Their cultural environment was quite similar to the one the Western church faces today. This similarity prompted Kelly Minter to turn the question towards ourselves as we gave thought as to how our own culture and its influences impact our own lives of faith.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3,4
I, definitely, identified with Kelly Minter and her introduction to the second day’s lesson. She states that she “once held the idea that if I followed the principles laid out for me in Scripture, if I loved God and made solid, biblical choices, I would be blessed with some version of a really good life, void of heartbreak or catastrophe or sickness…. I somehow felt that if I did my part then God would be obligated to do His: build me the kind of life we covet here in America and protect me from pain.” I once held these same ideas. Maybe you identified with this statement as well. This lesson focused on suffering and the gift of compassion from our Father. We answered questions pertaining to the sufferings of Christ and the action those sufferings take as they overflow onto believers and then flow out as comfort to others. We also focused on how Christ has been with us through suffering and reflected on how we have relied on or not relied on him through it. Our lesson concluded with a message of encouragement to offer others the same comfort that we ourselves have received in Christ.
In our third lesson, we encountered some of the issues that the Corinthians had against Paul. Significant problems had developed in the Corinthian church and Paul was holding them accountable to deal with those issues. He called them to a higher standard of living than the one they were presently living because of his love for them. The Corinthians were questioning Paul’s motives and falsely accusing him. Throughout 2 Corinthians, he defends his position, his ministry, and his motives. We also should consider our own default response when others falsely accuse or misunderstand our motives. We ended our day with filling in a response to two statements: Here are my fill-ins. Because God is faithful, He will do what He promises. Because God is faithful, I will look to Him for help.
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:20
Sincerity was the focus of our fourth lesson. What does it mean to be sincere? Do we manipulate or shade the truth? Or are we insincere when we care more about keeping the peace and avoiding disagreement? These questions were some of the ones we considered in this lesson. Kelly Minter included a sincerity test for us to take as well. If taken thoughtfully, the test can be eyeopening. The Corinthian church appeared to have been accusing Paul of not holding to what he said. He reasoned that his message to them had always been that in Jesus Christ all of God’s promises are yes.
“For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.” 2 Corinthians 2:4
Our week concluded with a lesson on holiness as the foundation on which thriving relationships find their footing. Out of Paul’s deep love for the people of this Corinthian church, he wrote hard truths to them, not to hurt them but to lovingly restore them. Paul encouraged the church to restore the one who had been ostracized. He instructed them to forgive and comfort him back into the community of faith. Paul’s wisdom regarding the treatment of the offender is wise advice. Our questions for this lesson dealt with forgiveness, restoration, and comfort. Forgiveness protects the believer from separation from God. Unforgiveness keeps us separated from the protective loving cover of God.
Start the third session lessons for this week. They begin on page 39.
Videos are available for this study and can be found at Lifeway for purchase.
Today, we begin a grand adventure in the pages of scripture with the help of this Fall’s 2017 bible study, All Things New by Kelly Minter. This study focuses on the book of 2 Corinthians. This epistle to the church at Corinth was most likely written during the winter of A.D. 55 while Paul was in Macedonia.
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:1,2
In the days of Paul, Corinth was a prosperous and diverse city with a location ideally suited for commercial trade and travel. This city had a very mixed population consisting of Romans, Jews, Phrygians, and Phoenicians. Along with all of this prosperity, Corinth hosted a darker side of life. These cultural behaviors led the Greeks to coin the phrase, korinthiazesthai, to describe what it meant to live with drunken and immoral debauchery like a Corinthian*. Paul in this letter writes to the church to plead his case, to speak on suffering, to encourage the believers to endure, to know how to handle those who teach falsehood, and to understand the need for sound doctrine.
My hope is that you will join me on this journey. Click here for the details.
Introductory video is available at Lifeway for purchase.